As I write this, the rain is falling in sheets and the sky is the color of dishwater and I am slowly going out of my mind.
There are nine people sharing this beach house. Five of them are children. Four of the children are under the age of 7. When the rain came, I did the only sensible thing, which was to sit on the deck and weep.
This morning we played bingo. I had not played bingo in 20 years. Now I see why. The children took turns shrieking "bingo! bingo!" every five seconds. It is not possible to describe the chaos that . . . well, maybe this analogy will work.
There is a scene in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" where a group of severely disturbed mental patients watches the World Series.
As the game progresses, the patients become increasingly more agitated, to the point where they finally erupt in a frenzy of whooping and hollering and pillow-tossing.
That is sort of what the bingo game was like, only louder.
Midway through the game, the children began singing "Bingo Was His Name-O."
I don't know if you have ever heard this particular song. It is a very annoying song. To my way of thinking, it makes "Do the Hokey-Pokey" sound like "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
For those who have never had the pleasure, here is a sampling of the lyrics:
"THERE WAS A FARMER HAD A DOG,
"AND BINGO WAS HIS NAME-O.
"AND BINGO WAS HIS NAME-O!"
There. Now imagine hearing that over and over again. Imagine listening to it for an hour straight. I did. It was only by the grace of God that my head did not begin rotating 360 degrees.
When the bingo was over, the children began screeching: "Let's play Monopoly! Let's play Monopoly!"
I looked out the window and there was the ocean. Huge waves were crashing onto the sand. I thought about just walking into the ocean and letting the waves engulf me, about how peaceful and serene that would be.
So we played Monopoly. It took roughly two hours to explain the rules to everyone.
Thankfully, as the result of a shrewd business maneuver, I managed to buy Boardwalk and Park Place. I had some nice action going. You had to cough up 400 bucks every time you landed on Boardwalk. Park Place cost you $350. Things were going swell.
Then the 2-year-old knocked over the board. Money and pieces went flying everywhere. End of Monopoly game.
Let me say this. If that had been my 2-year-old, I would have had to hold her little feet to an open flame.
Instead, it was my 2-year-old niece. And her parents were sitting right there, so I couldn't even take a poke at her.
Instead, I had to muster a thin smile and say: "Heh, heh, that's OK. Accidents happen."
But I'll get her back. Don't think I won't.
At lunch time, the rain was still falling in sheets. By now I had developed a disturbing facial tic, my right eye fluttering badly. I turned on the TV to hear the latest weather report.
The weather guy wore an enormous smile on his face, which I immediately recognized as a bad sign.
"Rain today, rain tonight, rain tomorrow," he said brightly. "Hey, the farmers need the rain!"
That is all I ever hear. THE FARMERS NEED THE RAIN! THE FARMERS NEED THE RAIN!
Let me tell you something. I have had it up to here with these damn farmers. Who do these people think they are? Sure, they might have 10,000 acres of corn shriveling up and dying, but I'm stuck in a beach house with five kids going nuts.
Tell me who has the bigger problem. So let's not hear any more nonsense about needing rain.
After lunch we took the kids to an indoor amusement center called "Funland." Oh, it was fun all right. There were approximately 10,000 other kids there, all revved up on colas and cotton candy and assaulting each other to get at the air hockey and Ski-ball.
This one wild-eyed little monster bumped into me, sending waves of Diet Coke all over my shirt. I wanted to take a poke at him, but his mother was right there. I followed the little brat around for a while to see if I could at least pull his hair, but his old lady kept turning around every five seconds.
It is now 4 in the afternoon. The rain is still falling hard. The sky is the color of an ugly bruise. The children are in the living room screaming and throwing the cushions of the couch at each other.
A lamp just crashed to the floor.
I don't know how much time we have left.